Project and Administrative Assistant

ESO - European Southern Observatory

Project and Administrative Assistant

ESO - European Southern Observatory

Garching, Germany

The European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO) is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries.

ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in northern Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor (home to ALMA and APEX), and the ESO Headquarters are located in Garching, near Munich, Germany.

At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world's most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory, and will host and operate the southern array of the Cherenkov Telescope Array, the world’s largest and most sensitive high energy gamma-ray observatory. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, ESO is building the 39-metre Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), which will become "the world's biggest eye on the sky" and whose operations will be fully integrated into the Paranal Observatory.

Due to the need for additional resources associated with the ELT programme, in the Project Management Department, within the Directorate of Programmes at its Headquarters in Garching, we are advertising for the position of Project and Administrative Assistant.

Working with project managers in the Project Management Department, some of whom are in Chile, your role will be to support ELT project management activities through undertaking related administrative tasks. This will include the support of our document management system (PDM), running collaborative platforms and software tools catering to the needs of the projects. You are expected to work independently on assignments and will be able to set priorities for your own day-to-day activities. You should also have a collaborative attitude, a strong sense of duty and a proactive approach to your work.

The work to be done in your role itself is rewarding, but it will also allow you to contribute to the building of the ELT ( one of the most exciting projects undertaken by ESO. This telescope will enable us to answer key questions about the universe like understanding the nature of dark matter, the period when the first stars and galaxies started to form or the study of Earth-like planets orbiting neighbouring stars.

Main Duties and Responsibilities

Your main duties and responsibilities will be split over three areas:

A. Support for project management activities:

  • Assisting project managers by preparing meeting agenda, creating project schedules, taking minutes, and following-up on action item lists;
  • Supporting project managers in their work with contractors and partners including progress meetings, milestone reviews, documentation of acceptance testing and inspections, etc.;
  • Supporting project reviews in terms of documentation (see PDM above), review items (e.g. in JIRA - project management software), action item follow-up. Providing direct assistance to the chair and secretary of the project reviews and other board members;
  • Follow-up of action items and support of change management in the projects (change requests, requests for waivers, non-compliances, etc.);
  • General support of planning and resource management activities including using the ESO Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.

B. Administrative activities, related to projects, will include but are not limited to:

  • Day-to-day administrative assistance to the members of the Project Management Department located in Germany and Chile. This includes prioritising and handling issues and department queries, while exercising appropriate judgment to ensure quality service and resolution;
  • Scheduling and organising virtual and in-person meetings both internally and externally including with contractors and collaboration partners;
  • Organising and planning business travel;
  • Taking minutes of meetings, drafting correspondence, creating presentations, preparing project documents, distributing reports and technical files;
  • Providing coverage and support during the absence of other assistants.

C. Basic duties related to the ESO document management system (PDM) to include:

  • Managing the archiving of documents and coordinating the approval process in close collaboration with the Information Repository Manager and Documentation Controllers;
  • Quality control of large and complex data sets and documents in PDM;
  • Basic system administration tasks for PDM.

The above responsibilities are not exhaustive and a flexible approach and willingness to adapt to unexpected needs is required.

Reports to

Head of the Project Management Department.

Key Competencies and Experience

Essential Experience:

You should have a minimum of 3 years of experience as an administrative assistant preferably in an international environment. Experience gained in supporting project work or ideally supporting a project management office, or similar responsibilities will equip you well for this role.

Essential Competences:

  • Experience in planning, monitoring and evaluating activities of a project, in collaboration with the Project Manager;
  • Experience in supporting an organisational unit (group/department) with a strong customer focused attitude in all administrative aspects: organising meetings, travel, purchases, keeping records, etc.;
  • Proven experience in documentation management including quality assurance activity, access management etc.;
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills enabling you to interact with a range of people from different technical and cultural backgrounds; You should be friendly and service oriented, and able to anticipate needs of those that you work with;
  • Self-directed, highly motivated, with a problem-solving attitude and attention to detail;
  • Ability to balance conflicting demands and priorities, day-to-day activities versus longer-term tasks, and to work under time pressure;
  • Provide clear, concise and timely oral and written communication;
  • Ability to work both on your own initiative and within teams in an international and multicultural environment; and
  • Ability to take a flexible approach and adapt quickly to changing circumstances.

Desirable Competencies and Experience:

  • Familiarity with concepts of project management and tools;
  • Experience with JIRA-based applications or similar software;
  • Experience with ERP applications;
  • Experience with handling technical project documentation and drawings;
  • Advanced knowledge of PDM systems;
  • Experience with configuration control and quality assurance; and
  • Willingness to acquire new skills and keep up to date with the tools used in your daily work, as well as to adapt to new procedures and identify means to optimize the daily workflows.


Essential educational level:

  • Completed secondary education including an administrative diploma such as for a bilingual secretary. Other equivalent technical/professional training with relevant experience will also be accepted. (A University degree (bachelor) in administrative matters or a related field will be regarded as asset above the minimum requirements);
  • Proficient user of the Microsoft Office software (MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Teams, SharePoint, etc.). You should be able to use each package competently and fully.

Additional desirable qualifications:

  • Training in a field related to configuration management or quality assurance.

Language skills:

  • High (fluent) proficiency level in English both written and oral is essential, good knowledge of German is an asset, as is knowledge of Spanish.

Remuneration and Contract

We offer an attractive remuneration package including a competitive salary (tax free), comprehensive pension scheme and medical, educational and other social benefits, as well as financial help in relocating your family and the possibility to place your child/children in daycare.

The contract is for a fixed term duration of three years and is subject to successful completion of a probation period. There may be a possibility of extension(s) subject to individual performance and organisational requirements, in particular for the ELT Programme, and as defined in the applicable policies and staff rules and regulations. For any further information, please visit ESO's conditions of employment. Please note that the contract policy and in particular the regulations concerning fixed-term and indefinite contracts are currently under review which may lead to changes in the contractual conditions applicable to this position.

Duty Station: Garching near Munich
Career Path: II


If you are interested in working in areas of frontline science and technology and in a stimulating international environment, please visit for further details.

Applicants are invited to apply online. Applications must be completed in English and should include a motivation letter and CV. Within your CV, please provide the names and contact details of three persons familiar with your work and willing to provide a recommendation letter upon request. Referees will not be contacted without your prior consent.

Deadline for applications is 5 January 2023.

Interviews are expected to start soon after this date.

ESO Values

An important element in any successful employment relationship is harmony in values between an organisation and its people.

The ESO Values are:

ESO strives for excellence through innovation.

ESO provides outstanding services to its communities.

ESO fosters diversity & inclusion.

ESO believes in the key role of sustainability for its future.

Achieving the above are recognized as only possible on the basis of personal values and attitudes that we expect from our employees: respect, integrity, accountability, commitment, collaboration, and clear & open communication.

Applicants to any ESO role are asked to reflect on their affinity with these values and advised they may be asked about them if called for interview.


ESO has established diversity as an important value of the Organisation, is committed to providing an equal opportunities environment and is actively seeking to promote a diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce.


No nationality is in principle excluded from employment at ESO, however, recruitment preference will be given to nationals of our Member States, host states and strategic partners: Australia, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Chile, irrespective of gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity or religion.

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© EuroJobsites 2022

EuroJobsites is a registered company number: 4694396 VAT number: GB 880 9055 04

Registered address: EuroJobsites Ltd, Unit 8, Kingsmill Business Park, Kingston Upon Thames, London, KT1 3GZ, United Kingdom

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